Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia connects Poland's rail network; BT cuts prices for landline-only customers; Ericsson under pressure to cut costs faster.
Following reports in the French press, Orange Belgium has confirmed its interest in a merger with cable operator Voo, issuing a statement saying that it is looking into an "industrial partnership" with Voo's parent companies, Nethys and Brutélé. If it went ahead, says Orange, such a merger would create a "convergent" national operator with strong roots in Wallonia and the Brussels region.
Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has won what it says is its largest-ever GSM-Railway contract, with Poland's state-owned railway operator PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe (PKP PLK). Under the terms of the five-year deal, Nokia will deploy a nationwide GSM-R and mission-critical network to improve railway connectivity and security throughout the country. Nokia's partners in the project are Herkules, Pozbud and Wasko.
In other Nokia news, the vendor has announced that it is to cut its Finnish workforce by 353. The company's networks division will lose 283 jobs, with the remainder going at its Nokia Technologies unit. As YLE reports, this is a smaller number of redundancies than originally planned.
Customers of UK incumbent BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) who only take the operator's landline voice service and not its broadband bundle are in for a monthly line rental price cut of £7 (US$9.84) as from this week, following an "intervention" from regulator Ofcom , who judged that this sub-set of customers -- many of them elderly -- were effectively being ripped off. In a response statement, BT is putting a brave face on the decision, saying that they "listened" to their landline-only customers and made a "voluntary agreement" with Ofcom to reduce the monthly charge.
Telecom Italia Sparkle has boosted its IP presence in Europe with a new point of presence (PoP) in Amsterdam. The PoP is located at carrier-neutral Data Centre Equinix AM5.
Verbund, an Austria-based hydropower energy producer, is to deploy ADVA Optical Networking (Frankfurt: ADV) 's FSP 3000 optical transport technology to boost the capacity of its network. Verbund hopes the deployment will help it realize its ambition to provide Austria's electricity entirely through renewable sources.
And talking of renewables, UK pay-TV giant Sky (NYSE, London: SKY) has invested £25 million ($35 million) into what it calls an "impact investment vehicle" to promote new ideas and businesses that it hopes might be able to stem the rising tide of plastics threatening the world's oceans. It is now looking to bring other businesses into the project and scale up the investment to £100 million ($140.5 million).